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Fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths on the rise

All across the country and here at home, the powerful synthetic drug, Fentanyl, is impacting lives.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — In Sebastian County, the Sheriff’s Office works diligently to help keep drugs off the street. 

Recently, their K9, Goose, has risen to social media fame for his recent drug busts. Last week, we brought you the story of Goose’s largest drug bust from back in December.

His handler, K9 deputy John Michal O’Mara, says the bust helped save countless lives, “the amount of Fentanyl that we got on that stop alone would have, could have possibly killed several people.”

But others within the department say Goose and other deputies can only do so much to combat the rise of Fentanyl-related cases.

“Talking to some folks in our area, they think almost every one of the O.D.’s we’re dealing with now has some connection or nexus to Fentanyl lacing,” said Sebastian County Sheriff Captain, Philip Pevehouse.

One cause related to the spike is due to the little regulation of Fentanyl potency when it is mixed with other drugs.

“You use it once or twice and everything works good, and maybe you use it again and it’s a fatal dose,” said Captain Pevehouse.

Guidance Center Peer Recovery Support Specialist, Vicki Loyd knows addiction first-hand and echoed Captain Pevehouse saying, “it takes a crumb to kill someone.”

Loyd told 5NEWS about her own personal struggle with drugs and addiction – going back to when she was 16 years old. Fentanyl was never a drug she used or came into contact with, but believes it ultimately could have killed her if she was battling addiction just a few years later in life.

“I’ve told the officers I work alongside, if I didn’t get clean when I did, there’s no doubt I would probably be dead today because of the Fentanyl in the area,” said Loyd.

Today, Loyd is six years sober, has her life back on track and works to help others through their own journey from addiction to recovery. Seeing how much Fentanyl has made its way into Fort Smith, Sebastian County and nationwide, she’s concerned about how it can impact the lives of those struggling, their friends and families, and even everyday people.

“It’s very scary,” says Loyd. “It doesn’t discriminate.”

Having exposure to Fentanyl can quickly overwhelm your body and even lead to death if not properly treated with Narcan. In some cases, Narcan isn’t enough. Sebastian County Coroner, Kenny Hobbs has a dire warning given his professional experience.

“I am the person that sees them. I see what it has done. I see what drugs have done to individuals,” says Hobbs. “Most of the time it’s not the first-time user, sometimes it is.”

For anyone that is struggling with addiction, it is important to know where drugs are coming from, but even then there is an increasingly high chance the drug could be laced with Fentanyl. Loyd and many others want you to know they are here to help. Having their own personal connection to addiction and recovery, they can relate more than anyone else.

“It’s a problem, but it’s not a problem that’s not able to be corrected,” said Loyd.

Helping others get back on track one step at a time is one of the best parts of her job she says.

“Seeing the hope come back in people’s eyes and the strength that they can overcome addiction and just watching them regain their life back one goal at a time,” said Loyd.

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